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Interview with GRANT Brand by CAKE Flip. Nick Blinko (vocalist/guitarist/artist/sometime lyricist) is the most tortured soul on planet Earth (or so you might feel if you listen to his sometimes painfully screamed vocals). His drawings and lyrics are artistic masterpieces of everything that torments him, including organised religion (i.e. the Roman Catholic church), geniuses who used their gifts for writing about fear and darkness instead of love (H.P. Lovecraft), and the uncomfortably misused power of the human race. Grant Brand (bass/sometime lyricist) has also had to go through his own private hell (i.e. his own debilitating battle with cancer in the mid to late 80s which apparently cancelled an upcoming and unprecedented U.S. tour in 1983), but has returned with an amazing amount of confidence and fierce determination. Jon Greville (drums) seems to have kept the beat throughout the tragedies and hard times. He is definitely the heart and soul of the band. Rudimentary Peni have influenced bands such as Big Black (Steve Albini has always expressed to the independent media that Peni's second E.P., Farce, is an extremely huge influence on him) and Mudhoney ( both Mark Arm and Steve Turner have said that Peni's music has influenced them quite a lot) and continue to influence dozens of rock and punk bands to this day. Many thanks to John Loder of Southern Studios for setting up this incredible transatlantic phone interview.

CAKE: Grant, thanks for allowing me to interview you! I was really looking forward to hearing a new Peni record since it has been almost six years since you recorded your last one, and three years since you released it (Pope Adrian the 37th Psychritiatric, recorded in 92 and released in late 95).

GRANT: That's right, yeah.

CAKE: What was the motivation behind this new record (Echoes of Anguish, in 98)?

GRANT:'s an E.P. and it lasts about 17 minutes, and there are twelve tracks on it.

CAKE: So is this E.P. going to similar to the first two E.P.s?

GRANT: I's more to that sort of sound than the later things.

CAKE: I was wondering because the last two albums were a lot more operatic and progressive than the first three releases. I felt that Death Church was more of a straight-ahead punk rock album, and that both Rudimentary Peni and Farce were both more of a hardcore punk type of sound. So, you feel that it is more similar to the early records than the later ones?

GRANT: I think that the lyric similarities would be to Death Church. I mean...more than the first two E.P.s. I think that the difference is that there has been some progress in some of the lyric writing.

CAKE: I remember that the first two E.P.s attacked both politics and organised religion and, apparently, everyday life. Now, with the new E.P., there seems to be an incredibly negative view of relationships.

GRANT: Ah, yeah, I think that's probably true.

CAKE: So, this would be your present view on relationships in general?

GRANT: In this record, all of the lyrics are written by me.

CAKE: Just like the first two E.P.s?

GRANT: Ah, no. The material in the past has been a mixture of me and Nick contributing different tracks , whereas for the new one, I've written all of the lyrics and they've all been derived from my own experiences, or people that I've met.

CAKE: Do you know what the release date will be for the new E.P.?(Note: Echoes of Anguish was released in mid-June 98)

GRANT: We just finished putting the vocals on tonight and we've got some more work to do on it, and then we have to mix it, of course.

CAKE: Will you play any live dates in support of the new E.P.?

GRANT: No, that will definitely not be happening.

CAKE: So this will basically be just a studio project for Rudimentary Peni?


CAKE: Is there a chance in the future of a possible tour?

GRANT: No, definitely not.

CAKE: That's too bad. I'm a huge fan.

GRANT: Yeah. I mean...when we tried four or five years ago...some of the gigs went really well, and some of the gigs were disasters. There seemed to be a real mixture, but overall it didn't seem to be a particularly positive experience, so we felt that it wasn't really worth continuing with it, really. What we're going for now is putting out smaller amounts of material but really taking a very long time with the writing to sort of get the quality up, you know? If you do shows, then you kind of blow the mythology, as well. People have certain ideas and/or expectations and that kind of blows that really unless you are going to be engaging ina lot of theatrics and everything in order to try it.

CAKE: I guess that you mean that in order to do Cacophony live it would require a lot of effort and time, and would be almost impossible to do, right?

GRANT: Yeah, that's the other thing. When we did the shows, we played for a fairly short while so that we could sustain it, but a lot of people would want us to play for an hour and a half, and that, given what we're doing, it's not possible for us to do that. It's just not physically possible for us to do that and to put across the intensity for that period of time.

CAKE: I understand what you're saying. All your records have so much energy in them that it would be quite tiring to continue playing the songs after half an hour. Does this mean that Rudimentary Peni will be releasing more records more often?

GRANT: Well, I've been writing more stuff for another E.P. which is obviously a project for the future. As to when we record it, it all depends on the time scale of this one, of course.

CAKE: Is Nick doing alright these days and is he still drawing?

GRANT: Oh, yes. Nick is contributing to the artwork and is doing all the vocals and guitar work, as usual.

CAKE: Will the new E.P. be released on vinyl?

GRANT: That, I have no idea about. (Note: Echoes of Anguish was released on both 12" vinyl and CD)

CAKE: I'm asking because people around here still buy punk rock records on vinyl. It's weird to see the original EPs and Death Church going for like $25-30 at collector record shops and record swap meets out here. You have a pretty big cult following out here in the U.S. and I've talked to members of Mudhoney, and they had told me in the past that your band was very influential to them.

GRANT: It seems to be more interesting what we're doing in America than what we're doing here.

CAKE: It seems to have always been that way fro Rudimentary Peni, I guess.

GRANT: Like in the very early 80s we were more popular over here.

CAKE: That's probably because Crass released your second E.P. and Death Church on their own label.

GRANT: In that year [1983] there was obviously a whole sort of movement at that time which has changed so much over the years. It seems that our popularity is more so now in the States.

CAKE: Are there any bands thatyou've been listening to in the past five years that helped influence this latest recording, or is it the same influence that you've always had in the past? In past interviews, you mentioned bands such as Minor Threat who you used to correspond with in the early 80s.

GRANT: I don't think that any of us really listen to much of the music that comes out now. What I've done is gone back and looked at what we had done over the years and what I think has been more successful, or moving in the right direction. And I've tried to take that and improve it. So in a sense, we've built on what we've already done. That, onviously, is derived from certain influences back in the early 80s of bands that were around. But there really aren't any modern influences that I'm aware of. If you wwere to look at my record collection, you wouldn't find anything in there that was released in the last five years (laughs). There just isn't anything there.

CAKE: Your past music totally stands up because it has the old punk rock influence and it also has a lot of originality included at the same time, and I'm sure that you agree about that. Rudimentary Peni always seems to take a lot of time to write out the music, especially Cacophony, which was such a developed record. It must have taken years to write the music for that project.

GRANT: That one was surprisingly quick, but then again we hadn't done anything four or five years previous to that so there was a lot of creativity stored up.

CAKE: I consider Cacophony to be the best album that Rudimentary Peni has done. Musically, and everything. I really enjoy that album the most. Death Church is equally as creative as it is spontaneous, as well.

GRANT: Yeah, that's interesting. Opinion seems to be very much divided about it. I think that artistically, Cacophony has more to offer, but in terms of popularity and sales that Death Church has always been infinitely more popular. It surprised me, really, but that's the way it was.

CAKE: For Cacophony, did you guys listen to more progressive rock?

GRANT: That album has all kinds of influences and all kinds of music in it, from jazz chords through classical through oriental music, as well. All kinds of things in there.

CAKE: On Death Church, the bass playing on the first track (1/4 Dead) reminds me of some of Charles Mingus' early work.

GRANT: I'm not familiar with his stuff. I mean...I listen to various things, but jazz and that sort of stuff, I personally never listen to that. Unless I picked it up subconsciously, it might just be a coincidence. I'm more likely to be influenced by the classical that I listen to than jazz because there is no jazz in my record collection at all(laughs).

CAKE: That brings up another point. About nine years ago, both you and Jon were interviewed by Sounds magazine. You said, at the time, that the next record was going to be mostly instrumental. Is there a chance that a mostly instrumental album will be recorded by Rudimentary Peni in the near future?

GRANT: I don't think so. What I'm interested in is building and improving what we've already achieved in what we just recorded. And I'm still writing more lyrics and stuff.

CAKE: No more looking at the past, then, just looking forward?

GRANT: Yeah. To say progressing in the sense of with the lyrics. I try to improve what I write all the time. Putting much more depth into it and stuff so that if people could even be bothered, they would have to sit down and really try to work out all of what is going on. In terms of the riffs and that, it's not terribly difficult to play. But in terms of understanding the lyrics and whatever, I think that it's a lot more difficult now than some of the earlier stuff.

CAKE: Whatever happened to the material that you and Jon recorded with Steve Albini back in 1987?

GRANT: I have absolutely no idea. You really have to ask Steve Albini about that. The last thing I heard was this: we did an album of bass and drums that was very avant-garde and very almost -but not quite- improvised. It was worked around the seams, but it was very avant-garde and very much built on elaborate bass lines and such. I sent it off to Steve, and that was the last that I ever heard of it. He probably regarded it as too off-the-wall to do, but I really don't know. You should ask him. If you hear something about it then, please let me know, too (laughs). I really don't want to hassle him about it. If it's not his thing, then that's alright, but it was quite a project (laughs)!

CAKE: Have you been to any clubs, lately, to see new bands?

GRANT: I haven't seen a band play, outside of ourselves, for years.

CAKE: What are your thoughts on Chumbawamba, an Anarchist band, being in the top 10 in America?

GRANT: I'm actually not very familiar with them, but being around Southern, I have been aware of their presence. The only thing that I heard was the single that was such a big hit over here a couple of weeks ago [Tubthumping],. but I don't know how it compares to other things tthat they've done in the past.

CAKE: I started thinking, "well...if Chumbawamba can have a platinum record, then so can Rudimentary Peni". It's kind of frightening!

GRANT: There are various reasons why we'd never get mainstream acceptance. The point about it is this: the name of the band, straight away, is immediately going to cause problems if you're looking at a mainstream market. So, that's not going to go down very well. On top of that, let's face it: it's not going to get FM airplay!

CAKE: I don't know if you know this, GRANT, but there are a whole lot of internet web pages devoted to Rudimentary Peni.

GRANT: I heard that a few bits and pieces are around, but I was never too aware of what was going on with all of that, really.

CAKE: It's weird because the last interview that I did with Rudimentary Peni for Flipside is on someone's webpage. They transcribed it, and everything. The fans have really been looking up stuff, and have been putting more and more information up. It's really fascinating

GRANT: That's one of the things that, with this recent record, I'm trying to really understand because I thought, "Right, let's really spend a couple of years writing seventeen minutes of music to get the quality up to what it should be". Because there is that small hard core of people that are genuinely interested, and that's why we made the effort to really get it together. It can be really easy to just keep churning out stuff, and I said that I really put out small amounts and put it under a magnifying glass, and make sure that it waas up to the quality that I wanted.

CAKE: Were you happy with the way the last album turned out? Because, there was a three year delay in releasing it...

GRANT: There was some dissent about the release of that particular record. Some members of the band felt that it should come out, and some felt that it shouldn't, so we spent some time in dispute about it, and finally, the ones that wanted it to come out won the day, so it came out.

CAKE: There were some good quality songs on that record, but it wasn't the same quality of material that both Death Church and Cacophony had.

GRANT: Exactly. That's what I thought. That's why.

CAKE: I also didn't think that it was up to par with what Rudimentary Peni could do in the studio.

GRANT: Opinion in the band was definitely divided, but I personally agree with what you just said. So, I said, if we're going to put out another record, then we are going to spend some time with it, you know? You have to improve on what you've done before, not come out in a lower quality. So that's what we did. My personal opinion is that I have no problems with everything that we've put out apart from that last album. But that's my opinion.

CAKE: Is there a chance of a live record coming out someday? There are quite a few live tapes of Rudimentary Peni that have been circulating around in the bootleg tape market. I know of at least seven shows that can be obtained through this market. Is there any chance of that coming out throught the band for the fan market?

GRANT:'s an interesting concept! I've never actually heard a descent live tape of us.

CAKE: There are a few board tapes and audience recordings that are from 81, 82, and 83. I also personally have a bootleg live E.P. that says on the cover, "Proceeds go to animal abuse".

GRANT: I've never even heard of that one!

CAKE: The cover has a drawing that is similar to Nick's drawings but is obviously a fake. Is the next E.P. going to have elaborate artwork on the cover?

GRANT: Maybe you could give me some ideas on what you think about that. Last time, we had a booklet included with the album. This time, I'm going to lay out all of the lyrics and definitely come up with something. We have the cover planned out. It will be something that Nick has already done, but we will never put a picture of the band on the cover. That would blow the mythology.

CAKE: The most interresting thing about Rudimentary Peni is the mythology. What does the band look like? Is Nick Blinko in a wheelchair? Does he have throat cancer? From what I understand, you battled cancer years and years ago. Was it true that a U.S. tour was cancelled because of your battle with cancer?

GRANT: No. There was talk of us touring America in the late 80s after Cacophony came out, but that didn't happen. In the early 80s there was talk of us going to Europe with a band called The Mob, but that didn't happen. And there was also talk of us playing with the Dead Kennedys when they came over here. Jello Biafra was trying to make it happen. At the time they were here, I was in the hospital literally at the same time, and that was an impossibility.

CAKE: Are you fully recovered from the cancer?

GRANT: Oh, yeah. Many years ago. All these years later with an older head on my shoulders, I wonder what caused my recovery and what didn't. The bottom line is this: that illness was nearly half my lifetime ago, and I haven't had any problems since. You can't ask for anything more than that, really.

CAKE: I think that you're an amazing bass player, and quite an innovative one, at that.

GRANT: Thanks for saying that! I try to make an effort. The problem with punk things, or fast-sounding things, is that there can be a tendency because it's fast not to put in extra notes or extra slides because it's very intense, very difficult, and very exhausting to do that, but I've always tried to do that. Once again, that's why it would be very hard to play on stage for an hour. The level of concentration in order to do that is infinitely more than knocking out rude notes.

see INTERVIEW #1 | INTERVIEW #2 | Show Review and INTERVIEW